Featured athlete sig

When Nebraska women’s swimming junior Madesyn Ronquillio was eight years old, she saw her friends swimming at the city pool in her hometown of Tracy, California and thought that she should give it a try. 

There was no reason for Ronquillio to not be in the water growing up in the sweltering climate of California, and that led her to get into club swimming. 

At club level, Ronquillio was able to make friends, and also found the support of a mentor that’d hone her skills greatly, Clay Basepayne. To Ronquillio, Baspayne was someone that was able to motivate her and push her through some of the difficulties the sport presents.

“Trying to get through those tough times he had a huge role in getting me to think about the bigger picture,” Ronquillio said. “Basepayne showed me to think about the bigger meets, swimming in college, and the people that I will meet along the way if I can push through.” 

One of Ronquillio’s greatest traits is her support and energy for her fellow teammates, and that definitely shined when she was in high school.

One distinct benefit high school swimming had for Ronquillio was the opportunity to match up against her friends who swam for her club team, but for other high school teams. This competitive fire and friendly gamesmanship was a defining point for Ronquillio’s high school swim experience.

“This was my favorite memory because I had friends at all of the high schools, so it was a bunch of my club teammates, and my high school teammates getting together and racing against each other,” Ronquillio said. “It was like a worlds colliding experience, and it was my favorite.”

Ronquillo, while being a great teammate, was recruited because she’s first and foremost a good swimmer. She was recruited heavily going into her last year of high school. Four top schools had reached out to Ronquillio; Boise State, Akron, Idaho and Miami of Ohio. She eventually settled on Boise State, where she starred for the Broncos from the moment she arrived on campus.

Ronquillio was at Boise State for her freshman and sophomore year. In that time, she had accomplished career-best times in backstroke, top-20 finishes at the Mountain West Conference Championships in Minneapolis and was honored as an Academic All-Mountain West selection and Mountain West Scholar-Athlete in her freshman year. 

Then, as a sophomore, she raced to All-Mountain West honors with top-eight finishes in the 100 and 200 backstroke at the conference championships, along with more career-bests in backstroke and butterfly. 

During the height of COVID-19 the Broncos’ swim team, like most other collegiate athletic ventures at the time, didn’t know when their next meet would be. And, unfortunately for Ronquillio and the team, the university had decided they’d competed for the final time. The university ended up cutting the swim team, to clear up funds.

“I feel like my time at Boise made me grow as a person and as a swimmer,” Ronquillio said. “It was my first time getting the right type of practice, and it was time in my life I won't forget.” 

That left Ronquillio to take on another recruiting and signing period after having such a successful collegiate career already. 

“I was in shock because now I didn’t know where the next chapter would be, but the day after the announcement had been made I had been on the phone with 12 different schools,” Ronquillio said. 

The day after Boise State announced the program’s cancellation, Nebraska women’s swimming assistant coach Pat Rowan reached out to Ronquillio about a future as a Husker. Ronquillio, meanwhile, was working through an overwhelming recruiting process while trying to determine what her next step would be. Through all of the schools that contacted her, though, Nebraska stood out.

“It was pretty overwhelming for me because it was not a normal process since COVID-19 had restricted me from seeing the schools in person… eventually my parents and I sat down and weighed all of the options,” Ronquillio said. “With all Nebraska has to offer from the coaching staff, the student athletic help, the university itself and the team is what made me decide on Nebraska.” 

Rowan, the head of Nebraska’s recruiting, jumped at the chance to bring Ronquillio on after seeing the news break of Boise State’s rupturing. The program had an opening, and he felt Ronquillio could fill a need for the program.

“Once we saw that the news had broken I jumped on their website and found to me who their best swimmer was, and said to Madesyn that we had a spot for her and that we wanted her in Lincoln,” Rowan said. 

With the transfer happening during the coronavirus era, the transition to a new school in an unfamiliar area would be rougher than during a different time. But Rowan said that it didn’t take long for her to get along with the program and the new teammates. 

“With the season being a bit delayed Madesyn is just now getting into the groove of everything that we have going on here at Nebraska but once she stepped foot on deck she had an impact through her leadership and drive during practices,” Rowan said. 

This past weekend Ronquillio was able to compete in her third meet as a Husker. Her notable moments so far this season include getting first place in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke against Illinois in the team’s second meet. Last weekend in the Minnesota Triangular, she took second place in the 200-yard backstroke and third place in the 100-yard backstroke. According to Rowan, Ronquillio’s progress thus far is proof of her work ethic and that she’s adapting well to Nebraska.

Ronquillio looks to continue her success in Nebraska’s next scheduled meet, the Big Ten Championships, which runs Feb. 23 through Feb. 27. Her potential and strong character has excited the Husker coaching staff thus far, and a strong performance in the team’s biggest meet of the season will build more anticipation for the rest of her time in Lincoln. 

“One word to describe Madesyn would be genuine, you are going to get the same girl everyday during long practices, meets, on and off the pool deck, we are really looking forward to all that she can bring to our program,” Rowan said. 

sports@dailynebraskan.com